Saturday, 14 September 2013

Tales of a shop assistant

Today was a historic moment in Charlotte World. After over three years of working there, I finished my last ever shift at One Stop (even those in the UK often haven't heard of this shop - it's a convenience store and most of them have been overtaken by Tesco Expresses so it's a bit of a dying breed.) I made the decision to give up work a few months ago, so that while I am in my final year of university I can concentrate on my studies. I think I am going to find this year stressful enough without having to stress about paid work as well. When I head back down to my parents, I simply want to relax and chill and we definitely do not do that in this shop. So, although I may regret it when I am starving in a few months time, it is a huge relief at the moment.

Recently I have very much fallen out of love with being a shop assistant. I believe they are the modern day servants, or the closest thing that you will find anyway. Ever polite and friendly and smiling, all we get in return are grumpy customers who complain that our human customer service is not quite perfect enough. Or they send us on errands around the shop to find things that they could easily have found themselves if only they had used a little bit of common sense. I generally am quite a friendly person and always want people to like me. But I have become very bored of trying to be patient with those people who seem to have forgotten basic human manners. If they have been brought up well rather than dragged up, they should have learnt that it is common courtesy to say please and thank you. It is something which I do automatically now at 21, yet some who have had 20 more years of practice seem a little too busy looking down their nose at me to be decent.

The thing that bugs me most is the automatic assumption that I am stupid because I work in a shop. If people were a little too obvious about this, I would casually drop into conversation how I was a training to be a teacher at a top English university and that normally shut them up. But even if I wasn't, none of the people I work with are stupid. It all suits us for different reasons. Some are deciding what they want to do next, some have families and the flexibility is useful for them, some are making their way up to manager positions...whatever the reason, no human has the right to look down on someone else because of their choices. And the people I work with are far more friendly than any I serve so I hold them in far more esteem despite being mere shop assistants!

Saying that, I did have some fun times. My colleagues are amazing and I made some awesome friends. We always had such a giggle, whoever I worked with, mostly at the customers. I was flirted with, shouted at, thanked, praised, criticised, embarrassed by and laughed at by a huge range of people. I had drunk people slurring at me, I was asked on several dates, fancied by a kid, and had some of the weirdest conversations ever. All in all it's probably made me a better, more patient person. So it must have done me some good.

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